Creating the document

Step 1: Paper size

Postcards come in a variety of sizes, but since we’ll be printing this one out we’ll use a common paper size that is ideal for postcards, 6in x 4in. Fortunately Photoshop Elements 5 has a number of pre-set image sizes that correspond to the common printing paper sizes, including 6 x 4. Click on the ‘File’ menu in the menu bar at the top of the screen, and at the top of the list you’ll see ‘New’. When you hold your cursor over this you’ll see a sub-menu, and the first entry is ‘Blank file…’. Click on this, and you’ll see a window appear.

Click on the drop-drown arrow in the ‘Preset’ window, and select 4 x 6. This sets the width to four inches, the height to six inches, and the resolution to 300 pixels per inch, perfect for photo-quality printing. Click ‘OK’ and a new blank document will appear. If your editing program doesn’t have these presets, just create a new document sized 1800 x 1200 pixels, with a resolution of 300 pixels per inch.

The preset creates a page that is 4 x 6, when what we want is 6 x 4, so we need to rotate the document 90 degrees. Click on the ‘Image’ menu, and hold the cursor over the top entry, ‘Rotation’. In the sub-menu that appears, click on either ’90 degrees left’ or ’90 degrees right’, it doesn’t matter which.


Step 2: The Grid

To help us align our borders and image placement, Photoshop Elements has a useful feature called the grid, which displays lines on the document with a “snap-to” feature to help with accurate alignment. Go to the ‘View’ menu and click on the entry for Grid, and you’ll see these lines appear. Mouse over the bottom entry on that menu ‘Snap To’, and check that there are ticks next to Grid and Guides.

The grid lines are set to a default size that is far too large for our purposes, so we need to change them to something more useful. Click on the ‘Edit’ menu, mouse over ‘Preferences’, and select ‘Grid…’.

In the window that appears, click in the boxes next to “Gridline every:” and change them to 25 pixels. In the “Subdivisions:” box, change the number to 1. This gives us a much smaller grid that will suit what we need to do next.


Step 3: Colour fill

Since we’re going to create some white borders on our document, they’ll be a lot easier to see if we change the background colour. Click on the ‘Window’ menu, and select ‘Colour swatches’. This brings up a colour palette from which you can select a colour for painting. Pick any colour other than white by clicking on it in the palette. I’ve chosen black. Black. Black. You lock me in the cellar and feed me pins.

Next, go to the tools palette on the left of the screen and select the Paint Bucket tool. It’s the one that looks like a tipping paint pot. Click with this tool anywhere on the document and it will fill the whole page with the colour you’ve chosen.


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